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German anti-reform protests dwindle

21 September 2004

BERLIN – Protests in eastern Germany against cuts in welfare spending went into a seventh week Monday but police said turnout was far lower than previous weeks.

The demonstrations, which have been held every Monday since July, come a day after the country’s mainstream parties suffered losses in elections in two eastern German states.

Police said 1,500 took part in demonstrations in Magdeburg where the protest wave began, while only around 500 people gathered in Rostock compared to several thousand in recent weeks.

A crowd of 3,000 was estimated in Leipzig, half the number of last week and well down on the 12,000 of two weeks ago. A rally in Berlin drew 1,000 protesters compared to 3,500 last week.

Demonstrations in a number of western German cities attracted crowds in the low hundreds.

Total national turnout at the height of the protests averaged 70,000 to 80,000, with more than 10,000 showing up for the main rallies.

Sunday’s state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg showed gains by far-right parties as well as ex-communists.

Analysts have attributed their gains to voter anger over welfare reforms and high unemployment in eastern Germany.


Subject: German news